You Don`t Have to Go Home, but You Can`t Stay Here

The Beeson Beat
You Don’t Have to Go Home, but You Can’t Stay Here
Anne Mainardi
Mr. C really had no reason to be in the hospital, but he also did
not want to go home. As a 68-year-old veteran admitted to the West Haven
VA with lower extremity edema, he was relatively healthy, aside from being morbidly obese, and had been living with his sister prior to admission.
His legs improved with a few days of diuresis, and the medical team decided he was ready for discharge. His sister, however, did not welcome him
back to her house. No other family member opened his or her door to him,
he did not want to live alone, and he was not a candidate for short-term
rehab. Although relatively young, his goal was to move to a nursing home,
yet he did not have any long-term nursing needs. The team was faced with
a discharge dilemma and the VA social work team took on the job.
Tina Birdsall and Tara Hanniford are the acute care medicine social
workers at the WHVA. Mr. C was not the first patient whose stay at the
hospital outlasted his medical needs. Tina reports that patients try to stay
in the hospital indefinitely for a variety of reasons. She describes one patient who wanted to live on 4W or T3W, so every time he was discharged he would represent and be admitted again. This cycle continued until he passed away on 4W.
Discharged— photo by Yihan Yang
An obstacle often faced by Tina and Tara is the role that payment plays in disposition planning. While the VA provides
many benefits, unfortunately it cannot cover all forms of inpatient and outpatient care and rehabilitation. One of the jobs
of the social workers is to help patients apply for Title 19, a state entitlement for health care that covers transportation,
home services, and extended care. While almost everyone is eligible eventually, there can be a long delay in approval,
particularly if complex finances are involved and a patient’s assets are used to determine eligibility. In Mr. C’s case, the
family refused to allow the patient to apply for Title 19 because he owned a property in Florida that they wanted to keep
in the family.
Sometimes a person does not have decision making capacity and the social workers assist in securing a conservator
appointed by the probate court to ensure that an adult’s basic needs are met, including management of finances and
health care decisions. Tina once undertook this process for a man in his nineties who was dropped off at the ED by his
girlfriend, who absconded with his wallet and car to Florida. She had a criminal record in Florida for elderly exploitation
and fraud. The patient was in the hospital for one hundred days while awaiting conservatorship. Eventually he lived out
his dream of returning to Las Vegas.
When patients refuse to leave, Tina has to enlist the higher-up administration. Patients who overstay their welcome are
told they are considered to be trespassing and may have to be escorted out by police. The goal, however, is always to provide a disposition plan that is safe and agreeable for the patient and his or her family. In the case of Mr. C, although he
did not meet criteria for VA long-term care payment, a loophole was found that allowed him to move to a nursing home.
This magical maneuver was just another day at the office for the social workers of the West Haven VA.
All Necessary Precautions
Inside this issue:
Austin Robinson
Mainardi: VA Discharge
Robinson: Contact Precautions
Patel: Radiology & Medicine
Connors: Spandrels
Cherry: iCompare
Bilsborrow: Image Challenge
Langberg: Animal Parts
Russo: Death with Dignity
Stahl: Artists & Maladies
Image Challenge cont.
Freed: Finding Inspiration
Howell: Art Corner
Yang: Intern Spotlight
My favorite game on rounds is guessing how much those yellow contact gowns
People love offering ideas—I’ve heard figures ranging from a few cents to several dollars each. But, when it comes down to it, nobody really seems to know for sure. So,
with a little help from my friends in Mountain View, CA, I found a more specific answer. A paper gown costs around $0.85. When you include gloves and staff time, the
price increases to about $35 per patient, per day. 1
That discussion raises questions about other costs of contact precautions (CP). A recent Chief-on-Call E-mail included a study estimating that IM interns spend 25% less
time in the rooms of their CP patients.2 There may be other problems, too: CP patients have higher rates of falls and pressure ulcer formation; they are also much
more likely to develop symptoms of depression or anxiety while hospitalized. There is
even some suggestion that satisfaction scores may be lower (but don’t tell the nurse
managers on Fitkin).The benefits of CP, however, can be variable. There is broad consensus about CP for active C. Diff or an open wound infected with drug-resistant organisms, but things get trickier when you consider VRE or MRSA colonization. In the
earliest RCT, CP yielded no improvement in limiting acquisition of resistant organisms as compared to simply wearing gloves.3 In a more recent, ICU-based study, CP
netted a mild drop in MRSA colonization, but it did not affect VRE acquisition or adverse events.4
These underwhelming results have led some to question the conventional wisdom of universal CP. Decision makers at
UCLA Medical Center, for example, opted for a “less dogmatic” approach. This past July the hospital discontinued CP
for all VRE- and MRSA-colonized patients. Emphasis was placed instead on syndromic isolation (e.g. CP for open,
draining wounds) and measures with more established benefit, like daily chlorhexidine baths. Similar approaches have
been adopted by other institutions, including VCU medical center and Toronto General Hospital.
So far, the results of this policy change have been encouraging. Dan Uslan, an ID attending and associate director of
UCLA’s infection prevention program, notes that since the policy change, there have been “no outbreaks of MRSA or
VRE, improvement in patient and provider morale, decreased waste and cost savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars due to decreased gown usage.”
Whether tailored CP policies make it to YNHH remains to be seen, but with these results, I may have to find a new way
to pass the time on rounds soon.
1. VerLee K, Berriel-Cass D, Buck K, Nguyen C. Cost of isolation: Daily cost of isolation determined and cost avoidance demonstrated from the overuse of personal protective equipment in an acute care facility. Am J Infect Control. 2014;42(4):448-449.
2. Dashiell-Earp CN, Bell DS, Ang AO, Uslan DZ. Do physicians spend less time with patients in contact isolation?: a time-motion
study of internal medicine interns. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(5):814-815. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.537.
3. Trick WE, Weinstein RA, DeMarais PL, et al. Comparison of routine glove use and contact-isolation precautions to prevent
transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria in a long-term care facility. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004;52(12):2003-2009.
4. Harris AD, Pineles L, Belton B, et al. Universal glove and gown use and acquisition of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the ICU:
A randomized trial. JAMA. 2013;310(15):1571-1580. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277815.
Radiology and Medicine: Creating a Bridge
Vastal Patel
The challenge of deciphering mysteries behind
white and shades of gray brought me to radiology. To
my surprise, reading images was only one part of the
job. Radiologists must do three things: ensure the correct study was ordered, interpret the images, and communicate findings to the covering provider. Delays at
any of these stages are frustrating for both clinicians and
radiologists—I know this from firsthand experience,
having done my medicine internship and now my radiology residency here at Yale. I remember being an intern
on the floors, awaiting imaging results to guide treatment. When studies were delayed, it created extra work
for me and delayed patient care. As a radiology resident,
I experience the same level of frustration when a study is
delayed. It creates a backlog of cases, adversely affecting
my workflow and resulting in a delay in care for multiple
patients. Clinicians and radiologists have the same
goal—excellent and timely patient care. Why don’t we
work together to achieve this?
Before any imaging is done, radiologists must ensure the
correct study was ordered. This process is called
‘protocoling’ the study. It may seem surprising that a
radiologist has the power to change or cancel a study—
after all, they have not seen or examined the patient!
This is why the clinician’s impression and diagnostic
question is so critical—it helps the radiologist determine
whether the requested study can provide this information. Unfortunately, very little history and clinical
information is provided when a study is ordered. Important details such as pregnancy, kidney function, and
allergies (including type of reaction) are frequently
omitted. This causes delays, as the radiologist has to
contact the ordering provider to learn these particulars.
There is no downtime in the reading room, so calling a
covering provider causes a delay that affects all subsequent workflow. Cases pile up, and care for multiple patients is affected.
Contacting providers for protocoling is a significant issue.
Ordering clinicians often leave the ‘contact information’
section blank, or the number provided is inaccurate because the covering clinician has changed. Tracking down
the current provider through EPIC is extremely timeconsuming.
Communicating critical findings to covering residents is a
significant issue. Our current system is color-coded to allow radiologists to communicate how life-threatening the
imaging findings are. When the radiologist has to spend
time figuring out whom the provider is and how to reach
them, reporting of critical results is either delayed or sent
to an off-shift provider.
Resolution of these problems will require lasting IT solutions. Until then:
Always provide a one- or two-liner history and pose a
clinical question.
2. Give information on pertinent allergies, pregnancy status, and kidney function in the one-liner.
3. Provide the most active contact information at the time
of placing the order. With the change of shift, be aware
that the clinician who placed the order may be contacted instead of the active clinician. Consider providing
the team Spectralink or pager number instead of a personal number.
Making these changes may help the radiologist’s workflow
and ameliorate some of the delays associated with image
interpretation and result reporting. I hope this article will
encourage more communication between medicine and
radiology providers. I believe that by voicing our frustrations, we can find solutions and ultimately create a happier
workplace and deliver better patient care.
Spandrels and Surrogates: Things
that Exist, Things that Don’t, and
What Truly Matters
Geoffrey Connors
Recently, an intern’s question at MICU morning report
prompted a discussion not about medicine, but about the
complexity of our human selves. Pursuing that existential
path was not our intention. The pulmonary fellow was explaining oxygen carrying capacity and the physics behind the
delivery of oxygen to tissues. The ensuing question was not
about cooperative binding or how oxygen transits the alveolar- capillary interface. It was simply, “Why”? Why does the
process occur as it does, with all its complexities and limitations? I responded with something scientific but inadequate,
leading to a follow-up that was the same. “Why?” I realized
that this was not a “why, explain it to me” question, but a
“why is the body designed like this” question.
Neither my fellow nor I could proffer a reasonable theory of
human design. Not convincingly and not in one hour. But
we started talking about why anything is the way it is. And
that led us to spandrels. And from spandrels it was a short
leap to surrogates, a meandering on partial understanding,
and why it matters to our patients.
Originally, a spandrel was an architectural term meaning the
area created when a dome was placed atop a set of arches
(see drawing). In more general terms it is any thing that exists not by design but as the product of two other intentioned
objects (the arches and the dome). In biology, we would say
a spandrel is a phenotypic byproduct, not something upon
which adaptive selection was acting. A simple example for
physicians would be the axillary fossa, or, colloquially, the
armpit. One could argue that there isn’t really an armpit—
just an arm and the thorax to which it attaches. But another
person could say, “Of course there is an armpit. I can see it.
It has function, even if it wasn’t designed for that purpose.”
This debate has raged for centuries, with input from the philosopher Spinoza to the paleobiologist Steven J. Gould. Both
camps have a point; but, without the other, each is lacking in
its ability to fully explain the world.
Should we actually be seeing the intersection of abuse
and poverty, or of sickness and job loss? The required
intervention for each is very different. What about the
patient who habitually arrives late to appointments?
Is he oblivious to your time and effort, or is there
something deeper?
Broadly defined, a surrogate is any concept or thing
that stands in for another, more complex, concept or
thing. We use surrogates because they are easy to
measure, quantify, and understand. Cholesterol and
BMI are surrogates for cardiovascular health. In our
discussion, we were using mixed venous oxygen saturation to represent a shock state. Patients use surrogates as well. When they want to eat well, with limited
time and money, they do not perform calorimetry or
adopt a wholly vegan, 1,800 kcal diet – this is much
too complex. They buy the packaged food labeled
“25% less sodium” or “low fat.” In this case, the surrogate for healthy eating is relatively healthy eating.
In truth, to refer to the outward signs of stress as a
spandrel could seem dismissive—not handing a distressed person a tissue is uncaring, even if not the ultimate fix. And referring to a reasonable test as a surrogate may be diminutive and unhelpful, especially if it
is the best information we have. This is not to say that
we should become lost in the nihilism of the unknowable. But I’ve found that thinking about spandrels and
surrogates reminds me that not all I see with my eyes,
target with my labs, or read on the back of packaged
foods supplies me with the complete story. Discerning
the whole truth or appreciating the whole person often
requires asking, “Why?”
Spandrels, as they relate to the care of patients, can be hard
to identify. The patient who presents crying in clinic can be
labeled simply as “stressed.” But are the tears a spandrel?
From Tragedy, a Trial:
iCOMPARE to Improve Care
Benjamin Cherry
On a cold March night in 1984, a young woman
lay feverish and agitated on a gurney in New York Hospital. Exhausted and inexperienced, the intern responsible for her care failed to diagnose an evolving serotonin syndrome and prescribed Demerol to ease her agitation. The young woman developed marked hyperthermia, suffered a cardiac arrest, and ultimately died.
The inhuman demands on an over-worked and undersupervised intern were cast as the culprits in the now
infamous case of Libby Zion.
Much of the public awareness of Libby’s death—and
the push to reform graduate medical education—
resulted from efforts by her father Sidney, formerly
Assistant U.S. Attorney and a legal reporter for the
New York Times. Mr. Zion leveraged his professional
and media connections to call for shorter duty hours
and enhanced oversight for resident physicians. The
New York Department of Health and the American
Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) separately—and some say hastily—began to restrict the
hours trainees could work. The debate over the merit of
these policies has ensued ever since.
Last month, Yale’s traditional Internal Medicine Program Director Mark Siegel announced that Yale had
been randomized to the intervention arm of a multicenter, randomized trial comparing the current duty
hour regimen (distinguished by its sixteen-hour maximum continuous work period) against a more flexible
approach. Dubbed iCOMPARE, this study represents
the first time in the thirty years since the Zion case that
a well-powered, academic study has been applied to
resident duty hour regulation.
allows programs to design residents’ schedules in any fashion that adheres to three conditions: 1) no more than 80
hours per week, 2) one day off in seven, and 3) call no more
often than one in three nights; all averaged over a four-week
period. Outcome data will be derived from Medicare claims,
ACGME and program director surveys, in-training examination (ITE) scores, and trial-specific beginning and end of
year surveys. All programs assigned to the intervention arm
may choose which of their services to include and will receive duty hour waivers for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Dr. Siegel and the associate program directors have worked
with the residency’s Executive Council to identify the rotations that will utilize the investigational duty hours. Preliminary plans are to modify intern schedules on services that
already have overnight call for residents, specifically VA
floors, the Fitkin service, and the Yale MICU. The intended
start date for the new duty hours is at the start of the 20152016 academic year this June.
Dr. Siegel emphasized that the benefits of iCOMPARE for
the residency’s newest physician trainees extend beyond
simply determining which duty hours schedule works best.
“The iCOMPARE trial will allow us to evaluate the best way
of teaching interns, and to better study the intern experience.” An informal survey of interns and residents revealed
enthusiasm for Yale’s participation in the trial, with some
articulating a sense that this type of study was overdue.
PGY-2 Stephanie McCarty said she thought that the study
was a good idea and added, “I’m surprised that it wasn’t
done earlier.” It is surprising that a profession of scholars
would take so long to adopt an evidence-based approach to
duty hour reform. The genuine tragedy and polarized debate behind the Libby Zion case created an environment
where changes had to be made before randomized trial data
could be collected. With sound information about clinical
outcomes and trainee experience, iCOMPARE represents a
new opportunity to improve the training of resident physicians at Yale and across the nation.
Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania, Johns
Hopkins University, and Harvard University lead the
iCOMPARE study. They have enrolled residency programs from approximately 200 eligible institutions,
stratified on the basis of residency program size and
patient population. The intervention arm of the study
Image Challenge: A Case of Severe
Foot Pain
Animals and Their Parts as Medicine
Karl Langberg
Joshua Bilsborrow
Healers from the dawn of time to today have used
things found in nature for their healing properties. Remedies
that we continue to use are animals and parts of animals.
Leeches and maggots were some of the first animals coopted by physicians. Leeches, used as early as 800 BCE,
were applied for diverse purposes, including phlebotomy,
anticoagulation, and anesthesia. In Ancient Greece, Galen
used these squirmy annelids to chill out fiery “sanguine” personalities. Outcomes data are not available. Leeches are now
used in post-surgical care to help drain blood from skin flaps
with inadequate venous drainage. Maggots also were used
since forever to clean wounds with necrotic tissue. They
earned their claim to fame in wartime: soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War were noted to suffer
from sepsis less frequently when their wounds had maggots
in them.
A patient presents with complaints of left foot
pain and fevers/chills for the past 24 hours.
Left lower extremity radiograph was obtained. What
is the diagnosis?
Answer on page 9
The use of animal parts in medicine entered a new era in
1922 when Banting and Best isolated insulin from dog, calf,
and ox pancreases for use in people. Juvenile diabetes had
been a universally fatal disease until this advance; since
then, a whole mess of animal juices have found their way
into the pharmaceutical industry, and into our patient’s
veins. Heparin and calcitonin are two notable examples.
Pharmaceutical heparin has been extracted from turkeys,
whales, dromedary camels, mice, lobsters, mussels, clams,
shrimp, mangrove crabs, and sand dollars. Calcitonin, on the
other hand, is extracted from salmon, which is totally weird.
In the 1980s and 1990s genetic engineering made it possible
for yeast and other microorganisms to make most of the
agents previously extracted from animals. This may mean a
decrease in the number of medications made from animal
products, but don’t count the chickens before they hatch.
Both leeches and maggots were FDA-approved in 2004.
Death with Dignity since Oregon
Armand Russo
The barber talked to me of the newest ways to grow
hair on bald death.
-William Carlos Williams, from Spring and All, 1923
We have been quietly assisting with death
for some time now [1,2]. Until 1997, when Oregon
passed the Death with Dignity Act (DWD), the practice of prescribing lethal sedation was little reported
by physicians. It took until 1998 for physicians to report in a national survey that sixteen percent of them
had written a lethal prescription [1]. Now after Oregon, data on end-of-life practices have become more
robustly reported. With the passage of legislation in
Washington State in 2008 and pending laws in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, we may know more
The law, among other important constraints, requires
informed consent based on understanding of the
medical diagnosis, prognosis, risks of the lethal medication, the result of the medication (death), and the
alternatives (palliative care, hospice, and pain management) [3]. In 2013, the Seattle Cancer Alliance,
which serves Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho in conjunction with the University of
Washington’s Fred Hutchinson Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC), became the first institutional expression of DWD. Since its inception, forty people
have had lethal doses of barbiturates or other sedatives dispensed through the CCC, and twenty-four
people have died after using the lethal amount.
There are unexpected and conflicting outcomes from
DWD, experience in the Netherlands, and the first
institutional form of DWD at Hutchinson. First, the
good outcomes. In contrast to many predictions, hospice referrals have remained stable in Oregon [4].
Physicians who have either referred patients for lethal
doses of medications or who have prescribed the
medications themselves report their absolute hospice
referral is no different than from before the law was
passed. This suggests that even with the possibility of
DWD, we have not lost faith in hospice to provide comfort for the dying. In addition, Dutch physicians, for instance, are more likely to discuss physician-assisted
death now that it is legal, while before they feared reprisal or legal action for any participation [5]. Only forthright discussion can provide insight. This is happening in
this country as well. I’m glad for that. Hospice stands to
Now for the bad: Roughly fifty percent of people who
died with sedatives at the Hutchinson CCC were not enrolled in hospice at the time medication was prescribed
[3]. Why not? Among the people who have died in Oregon and Washington with sedatives, almost eighty-five
percent were enrolled in hospice, yet still sought a quicker death [3]. So DWD is being used for people who have
not entered hospice, or for whom hospice has not fulfilled its palliative goals. We can do better ensuring hospice needs are met. This is the wormhole DWD opens.
DWD does not appear to have eroded the principles of
hospice, as evidenced by stable referral rates, and it has
actually been positive for truth-telling among physicians.
However, the issue is far from settled. We are mostly
moving on unsteady ethical and legal ground here. Why
jump to an ultimate conclusion, when a proximal choice
still requires refinement? Based on all the complexity
involved here, Quill and others advocate neutrality, a
careful consideration of all facets of the issue [6]. Please
don’t take too long to make up your mind; the question is
too important and it will be answered without you.
Meier DE, et al 1998. A national survey of physician-assisted suicide
and euthanasia in the United States NEJM. 338: 1193-1201.
Quill, TE et al 1991. Death an dignity: a case of individualized decision
making. NEJM. 324: 691-694.
Loggers, E et al. 2013. Implementing a death with dignity program at
a comprehensive cancer center. NEJM. 368: 1417-1424.
Ganzini, L et al 2001. Oregon physicians’ attitudes about and experiences with end-of-life care since passage of the Oregon death
with dignity act. JAMA. 285: 2363-2369.
Van der Heide, A et al. 2007. End-of-life practices in the Netherlands
under the Euthanasia Act. NEJM. 356: 1957-1965.
Quill, TE and Cassel, C. 2003. Professional organization’s position
statements on physician-assisted suicide: a case for studied
neutrality. Annals of Internal Medicine. 138: 208-211.
Artists and Their Maladies: Goya
Max Stahl
Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes was only
thirty-seven years old when a severe disease overcame
him. This illness almost killed him, then mysteriously
subsided, leaving him deaf for the rest of his life.
Goya’s work today is categorized in two distinct periods:
the period prior to his illness, filled with joy and light,
and the period after his illness, characterized by darkness
and depictions of the brutality of man, emblematized by
scenes from the Peninsular War. Some argue that his isolation made him a closer observer of gesture, physical
expression, and emotions. Certainly, in this period defined by demons and ghosts, he created many of his most
famous pieces, including The Third of May and The
Witches’ Flight.
What were the exact symptoms of this mysterious disease? Fainting spells, temporary paralysis, delirium, hallucinations, severe abdominal cramps, partial blindness,
and deafness. What would be the differential for these
symptoms? We must consider not only the host and syndrome, but also the time period and social circumstances
of his life.
Syphilis first comes to mind: Goya was known to have
lived a stormy lifestyle in his youth in the 1760s, a time
when syphilis is reported to have infected about ten percent of the European population. His wife Josefa had
about twenty miscarriages; the famous painting Saturn
Devouring His Son may have been inspired by the painter’s guilt for infecting his wife.
Others consider his symptoms iatrogenic in nature, due
to encephalopathy resulting from treatment with mercury, the most common syphilis treatment of the era. Lead
poisoning has also been proposed, given that lead was in
the paint as well as the wine and was known to have affected earlier artists like Caravaggio and Beethoven. One
other highly possible entity on the differential is viral encephalitis. While an arbovirus was implausible, given that
his illness developed in late December, mumps could explain all his symptoms, including abdominal cramps due
to mumps-induced pancreatitis.
Although this midlife illness resolved, Goya again became
acutely ill in his seventies. Fortunately, he found a compassionate doctor, Dr. Arrieta, whom he immortalized in a
very moving portrait, one whose colors are more delicate
and lighter than in other works of this period. It shows
Goya in a fragile state, too weak to hold himself up and
grabbing on to a sheet like he is clinging on to life itself.
The inscription below the painting says: “Goya, in gratitude
to his friend Arrieta: for the compassion and care with
which he saved his life during the acute and dangerous illness he suffered towards the end of the year 1819 in his
seventy-third year.” He painted it in 1820 and lived until
1828, when the extraordinary painter died at the extraordinary age of eighty-two.
Lacayo, Richard. “Goya: The Alfred Hitchcock of Painting.”
Time. 16 Oct. 2014.
Mackowiak, Philip A. Diagnosing Giants: Solving the Medical
Mysteries of Thirteen Patients Who Changed the World.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Image Challenge continued…
Answer: Necrotizing Fasciitis
This lateral-view radiograph of the left foot and ankle
demonstrates dissecting gas collections (linear lucencies
in radio-dense soft tissue) along both superficial and
deep fascial planes around the calcaneus. It also shows
extensive arterial calcifications (linear radio-dense deposits in a vascular distribution). In the absence of recent trauma or surgery, gas tracking along fascial planes
is virtually pathognomonic for necrotizing fasciitis.
The patient was a 72-year-old gentleman with a past
medical history significant for peripheral arterial disease,
chronic lower extremity wounds, and diabetes mellitus.
He was started on broad-spectrum antibiotics with vancomycin, piperacillin-tazobactam, and clindamycin and
went for emergent tissue debridement with podiatry
within hours of admission. He did well in the postoperative period and was eventually discharged back to
his rehabilitation facility.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare, rapidly progressive infection of the skin and deeper subcutaneous tissues, with
spread along the fascial planes of muscles, nerves, and
blood vessels. The causative organisms are usually
polymicrobial (55-75% of cases); mono-microbial cases
are caused by bacteria such as Group A Streptococcus (S.
pyogenes most commonly), Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio vulnificus, Clostridium perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis, and/or Aeromonas hydrophila. Risk factors include immunocompromised conditions, including diabetes, chronic alcoholism, renal failure, peripheral arterial
disease, and cancer. There is usually some minor/major
trauma to the overlying skin as a precipitant for the infection.
Patients usually complain of pain out of proportion to
the appearance of the involved skin. During early stages,
it can be difficult to differentiate from cellulitis. Crepitus
may be palpable (only 37% of cases), though subcutaneous air may only be evidenced on radiography (57% of
cases). As the infection progresses, the involved skin can
develop bluish-purple discolorations and/or hemorrhagic bullae. Patients usually present with signs and symptoms of sepsis, including fever, leukocytosis, tachycardia,
and/or hypotension. Treatment consists of broadspectrum antibiotics and surgical debridement.
Throughout the course of our collective experience
we have seen some remarkable physiology. Here are some
extreme values that our residents have witnessed, in patients who have since benefited from our dedicated care.
New values are noted with an asterisk.
18—Albert Do (DM2)
336—Alex Norcott (cirrhosis)
Anion Gap*
45—Matt Griffin (DKA)
41,000—Alex Perelman (CHF)
>38,030— Ali Romegialli (rhabdomyolysis)
373—Shoshana Streiter (Necrotizing MRSA
1440—Albert Do (DM2)
>29.99—Elana Shpall (Coumadin, abx, poor
PO intake)
Insulin Dose
225 units NPH BID—Adam Phillips (DM2)
Lactic Acid
26—Steph McCarty
Tele Pause
10 seconds—Krishna Sury (heart block)
104.5—Jen Ouellet (STEMI)
308—Cecilia Davis (hypothyroidism)
WBC count
239,000—Steph McCarty (CML blast crisis)
2—Dan Cleary (malnutrition)
2.2—Aaron Soufer & Elana Shpall (Fe deficiency anemia from bleeding esophageal
Platelet Count
<1,000—Beth Heuzey (ITP)
4—Ali Romegialli (malignancy)
<1.5—Dan Savage (Hypokalemic Periodic
Image Challenge Further Reading:
Hasham, Saiidy et al. Necrotising Fasciitis. British Medical Journal. 2005 330; 830-833.
Kotrappa, K.S., Bansal R.S., and Amin N.M. Necrotizing Fasciitis.
American Family Physician. 53 (5): 1691-1697.
Finding Inspiration
Amanda Freed
The recent New York Times article revealing a
case of sexual harassment at Yale demonstrated an egregious example. As a woman, I hope I am never the victim of such an act. And, to be honest, I don’t think I will
be. I think those cases are few and far between. To me,
the most striking thing about the article was its overall
lack of women. The only woman portrayed is the victim.
Her boss, the perpetrator, is male. Her boss’s boss, Dean
Alpern, is male. His boss, President of the university, Dr.
Salovey, is also male. Women in academic medicine are,
unfortunately, rare. According to a recent article in the
Journal of Academic Medicine, “As of 2010, only 13 percent of the deans of medical schools were women—lower
than the number of deans of law schools (20 percent
women) and even presidents of universities (23 percent). Interestingly, only hospitals (12 percent of hospital CEOs are female) have as few women at the helm.”
According to a recent article on the AAMC Web-site,
“The higher up the professorial and leadership ladder
one goes at a medical school or teaching hospital, the
fewer women one sees. While women compose 35 percent of all faculty, they are concentrated in junior
teaching positions. Women account for 42 percent of
assistant professors, 31 percent of associate professors,
19 percent of full professors, 21 percent of division or
sector chiefs, 13 percent of department chairs, and 13
percent of deans.” Here at Yale, only 4 residency programs have female program directors: pediatrics, ob/
gyn, ophthalmology and pathology.
At this point in my career, things are easy. I don’t have
to negotiate my contract, and I know that I’m being paid
exactly the same amount as my male colleagues. Given
the statistics, though, the future is bleak. The numbers
tell me I will probably never rise to be a program director, department chair or dean of a medical school. I hope
that I will have the fortitude and the support of an institution to rise to a leadership role. I hope that years from
now, if there is another sexual harassment case, the
dean of the medical school and the president of the university will be female.
Art Corner:
A new feature where residents highlight their favorite
pieces of art in the hospital
Ben Howell
If at all possible, I make the trip from the West
Pavilion to the North Pavilion via the second floor, because doing so passes my favorite piece of art in the hospital. Covering the entire wall of the second floor balcony of
the North Pavilion is a wall drawing/mural by Sol LeWitt,
a Hartford native and one of the most important American artists of the last century. I love it because it's easy to
overlook, but once you know it is there it is hard to ignore
and lightens the walk from West to South Pavilion. Drawn
by assistants from simple instructions, LeWitt's wall
drawings manage to start from a point of conceptual rigor
to create an immersive, playful, beautiful experience.
On loan from the Yale Art Gallery and installed after his
death in 2007, the drawing also reminds me of all the opportunities to see great art in and around New Haven,
including other LeWitt pieces. The Yale Art Gallery has
significant LeWitt holdings, several currently on view at
the gallery on Chapel Street, a local day-off destination I
highly recommend. There is also a retrospective of his
wall drawings at the Mass MoCA two hours north of New
Haven in North Adams, Massachusetts. Not to be outdone, the Dia:Beacon, in Beacon, New York, a hour and a
half drive to the west, has several LeWitt wall drawings
and sculptures among their impressive collection of late
20th century minimalist and conceptual art.
Lewin, Tamar. “Yale Medical School Removes Doctor After Sexual
Harassment Finding.” New York Times 14 Nov 2014: A15.
Intern Spotlight
Yihan Yang
Meena Elanchenny – Traditional
Hometown: West Chester, Pennsylvania
Undergrad: Swarthmore College
Med School: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Interesting Facts:
 Meena’s parents were born in rural Sri Lanka in the late 1940s
and immigrated to Canada and then the U.S as part of the Tamil
diaspora. Her mother is one of eleven and her father is one of six,
so she has twenty-five first cousins located on four continents.
 She was deathly afraid of ladybugs as a child—and to some extent
still is!
 A Philly sports fan at heart, Meena’s guilty pleasure is watching
ESPN's SportsCenter on her days off.
Hao Feng – Prelim, Dermatology
Hometown: Santa Maria, California
Undergrad: University of California, Berkeley
Medical School: Yale University School of Medicine
Interesting Facts:
 Often known as “Fruit Monster,” Hao can eat fruit like no other.
 He loves country music and participated in bull riding at the
Durham Fair.
 Hao chaired the ACP Council of Student Members and was a voting member on the ACP Board of Regents.
Mike Kaplan – Primary Care
Hometown: Rockville Centre, NY
Undergrad: Skidmore College
Medical School: Sackler School of Medicine
Interesting Facts:
 Mike was once a fisherman in Holland. AKA—his fiancé found a
costume photo shoot in Amsterdam, and it was the best.
 He played triangle at Carnegie Hall and had to rent a tux for the
 Mike is preoccupied with the physiologic generation of consciousness, stating, “Though the problem has been trivialized to the dark
dungeons of philosophy, I'm (foolishly) convinced that insights
from medicine could help explain how blobs of biological cranial
meat can, and do, create subjective experience.”
 BONUS! Mike recently got engaged to his girlfriend, Sarah. Please
congratulate him if you see him in the halls of the hospital!
The Beeson Beat Staff
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Beth Heuzey
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Armand Russo
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Austin Robinson
Yihan Yang
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